The Follies

The Follies

Editor’s note: This post has been updated. The original version included a section noting that the campaign report of House Speaker Tim Moore did not itemize his credit card expenses. New formatting by the State Board of Elections includes those expenses in another part of the report. That section of the Fitzsimon File has been deleted.

Lawmakers vote to protect themselves and illegal districts

The big story in Raleigh this week was the adoption by a joint House and Senate redistricting committee of the criteria lawmakers will use to redraw legislative districts in the next few weeks after the federal courts found the current districts were illegally gerrymandered using race.

The new criteria were approved after amendments offered by Democrats were all defeated in party-line votes and allows map drawers to protect incumbents when drawing the new lines.

That decision not only ignores calls by a growing number of people across the state for a nonpartisan redistricting process, it means that legislators elected in illegally drawn districts will be protected in the new districts drawn because the old ones were ruled unconstitutional.

Protecting sitting legislators is fundamental problem with the way districts are now crafted. That process is troubling enough.

But to protect legislators whose seats were won under districts that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously were unconstitutional is especially offensive.

Lawmakers want Cooper to do what they tell him

Republican legislative leaders and their cheering section on the Right can’t seem to come to terms with the fact that Gov. Roy Cooper won the election last November.  The attacks on Cooper are coming fast and furious inside the legislative building and outside of it.

Cooper recently expanded his lawsuit against the General Assembly for encroaching on the powers of the executive branch and seems to have a compelling case.

One of the points in Cooper’s lawsuit cites a provision in the budget passed by state lawmakers in June that orders the Governor to include funding for school vouchers in his budget proposal.

As Gov. Cooper’s lawyers point out, the constitution says the governor’s duty is to present a budget to state lawmakers who then make the final spending decisions.

The General Assembly has no business mandating what the governor must propose. They don’t have to accept his recommendation but they can’t force him to advocate for their position.

It makes you wonder if next session the General Assembly will include a budget provision ordering Cooper to endorse all Republican policy provisions and appoint only the people that Phil Berger tells him to.

Cooper was elected to be governor, not to serve under the thumb of the folks running the General Assembly.

Right criticizes Cooper for not doing what the courts say he can’t

Legislative leaders aren’t the only ones not letting facts or common sense get in the way of their tirades against Cooper.

The folks at Carolina Journal recently took an odd shot at the governor too in their coverage of a complaint by the NC GOP that Cooper had somehow violated campaign finance laws with a fundraiser attended by trial lawyers.

The allegation seems very thin but that wasn’t the egregious part of the story by CJ’s Dan Way.

Here is how his story on a news conference by NC GOP Chair Robin Hayes began.

What if the governor broke campaign finance laws but no state election board was there to rule? Maybe he would stall an investigation by not appointing members to the board. North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes offered that scenario Wednesday in a news conference.

It is true that Cooper has not yet appointed members of a new combined elections and ethics board because the creation of that board in a rushed, unannounced special session held by Republicans in December is being contested by Cooper in the courts.

And most importantly, the N.C. Supreme Court has agreed to take the case and ruled that no members can be appointed to the new board until the court decides on the challenges to it.

Cooper can’t appoint any members to the board even if he wanted to.  Hayes apparently didn’t mention that at his news conference this week and Way didn’t mention it either.

At one point in the story Way writes that the new board is nonexistent “because Cooper refuses to name its members.” Cooper is not refusing, the court says he can’t appoint them even if he wanted to.

That seems like an important fact that Way’s readers might be interested in knowing.

Missed deadlines and incomplete information in campaign finance reports

And finally, the deadline for legislators to turn in their campaign finance reports for the first six months of the year was July 28. As of the end of the week, as NC Policy Watch’s Melissa Boughton reported Thursday, Rep. Justin Burr had not filed his report.

Burr also missed the January deadline for his end of the year report for 2016.

About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.
chris@ncpolicywatch.com
919-861-2066